Big Question Marks

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weasel Coffee

Around the world cultures indulge in their fine cuisine: the French eat horses, the Inuit have their whale blubber, and Vietnamese have their weasel coffee.

So when in Rome, right?

The scene was a small restaurant just off the main strip called Pho Cali – in Nha Trang. Nothing major, pretty simple actually, the place was decked out with a few nice stool seats and had a menu of some cheap eats. We were very stoked because we had been able to order everything in Vietnamese and could understand their responses. It was probably this confidence that had Adrian muster the guts to ask for ‘café chon’ – weasel coffee.

The order garnered a lot of attention from all the staff in the restaurant, mostly giggles. Our waitress did a sort of double take and repeated what Adrian had ordered; just to be sure. The most amusing part for us was when our waitress made absolutely sure of our order by imitating a weasel itself. Suddenly managers where sticking their heads out of office doors and some school children were watching us intently while the staff rushed around preparing our drinks.

One of the horrible stereotypes about South East Asia is that they’ll eat anything. And mostly it’s true, but one of the most bizarre of world cuisines is here in Vietnam and took it as our duty to sample some.

In the central highlands there are huge coffee plantations, mostly set up by the French. Then someone had the idea to feed these coffee beans to our furry friend, the weasel - who then poops them out. It’s up to some poor fellow to sift through all that poop and harvest the digested beans one by one; and the pay is pretty crap (had to pun, sorry). The process either removes caffeine badness or adds flavour, but in the end it’s the most expensive java here, ringing up at 20,000 Dong a cup. Take that StarBucks!

We took ours with milk, naturally, and then down the hatch it went with a quite hush from the restaurant staff, grinning the whole time.

The coffee itself was pretty tart, and strong – with a flavourful bouquet finish. Fruity, one could say. All in all it was like any other coffee, and strangely enough we debated whether or not you’d classify it as vegetarian. It was a great way to get some ‘props’ from the locals, who were delighted at our bravery, but for us it was another adventure to cross off our lists.

Proudly finishing our last drops both of us did notice that we had a pretty thick layer of ‘the pasties’ on our tongues afterward.


Pops said...

Way to go! There's a coffee from Indonesia called Kopi Luwak and the beans go through a monkey's intestines. Maybe you should try that next? It's the most expensive coffee in the world!

Paula said...

ewwww that's just gross.... :)

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